This weekend, the first weekend in every October, is the Georgia Romance Writers annual conference, Moonlight and Magnolias. What a wonderful way to recharge those “writing batteries!” I bet if any one of you were there, you would want to run home ASAP and begin your own story, whether it is a romance or not. This group of people are just people like any one of us. “Please,” you say, “share the inspiration so that I too can create a lasting legacy on the page.” It is my great pleasure.
I could go on far beyond what you have the patience to read, so let me tell you briefly about the incredibly inspirational speakers.
Ciara Knight spoke Friday during lunch. Holy cow, what a story! She is dyslexic and dysgraphic (trouble writing–a far more common challenge for people than you would think), and, because she was educated in the days before Special Education was so well developed, she was told most of her life that she was retarded with a substandard IQ. When she saw her son headed down the same path, they tested him and discovered he was gifted but with the same learning challenges she had. You don’t have to have a PhD to know that this woman is the farthest possible thing from “retarded,” and I didn’t know whether to be angry or cry. At my count she has written 30 books many of them bestsellers. So there with retarded!
Keynote speaker Sherrilyn Kenyon was not at all what I expected. She was born in Columbus, Georgia, to a struggling family whose parents told them they would get no mercy from the world, so they wouldn’t get any mercy from them either. She was supposed to wind up as either a drug addict or unmarried and pregnant, but her older brother believed in her, taught her to read in spite of her dyslexia and borrowed a typewriter so she could write her first book. He died days after giving her the typewriter and never saw her books in print. She withdrew after that only to be drawn out again by her husband. Even after she started writing they faced more stunning challenges, too many to list, but including living out of a car in a parking lot with a seriously ill preemie. Her most famous books, the Dark Hunter series, were rejected for ten years, but thanks to her determination and belief in the books, she saw them published, which led to the incredible success she now enjoys. She has had 80 books on the New York Times list. 80!
These are just two of the remarkable stories I have heard and been inspired by in my time with Georgia Romance Writers. Every time I get down and want to give up, I think of these women and others like them and hear their message, kindly unspoken, but broadcasted loudly through their tales: Do not tell us you can’t do it. Do not tell us it is hard, and you are discouraged. Get out there, believe in yourself, and follow your dreams with passion and determination.
A good lesson for life as well as writing, don’t you agree?